MPs set to vote on smoking ban

MPs will vote tomorrow in the House of Commons on whether to ban smoking completely in public places.

The importance and sensitivity of the issue means that it will be a free vote, with no parties putting pressure on their MPs to vote one way or another.

Ireland is already smoke-free in all public places and Scotland is due to take the same steps in March.

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt is expected to vote for a total ban in licensed premises – against her department’s official policy.

In a recent report, the Commons health select committee said a total ban was the “only effective means” of protecting public health.

But some Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs oppose a total ban for fear it could undermine civil liberties.

The T&G union, which represents bar staff and others in pubs, restaurants, private clubs and casinos, urged MPs to take a “decisive stand in favour of the healthy option” and support a total ban with no exemptions.

Brian Revell, T&G national organiser for food and agriculture, said: “We have dealt with a number of cases of ill-health which have been caused by passive smoking, such as one worker whose asthma was made worse which caused her a hernia and pelvic damage.”

“Cases like these can and must be dealt with by a total ban,” he said.


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